Tulsa Attorney BlogDivorce vs. Legal Separation in Oklahoma: What are the Differences?

You Must be an Oklahoma Resident for 6 Months to File Divorce

Video Transcribed:  Divorce versus legal separation, What are the real differences in Oklahoma? I’m Oklahoma attorney James Wirth and I’m about to explain those differences. So one of the big differences, there’s two primary big differences, but the first one has to do with jurisdiction. In order to file for divorce in Oklahoma, you have to be a resident for six months of the state, and a resident of the county for 30 days to file in that county court.

That’s for the divorce requirements. For legal separation. The requirements are less, you don’t have to be a resident for the full six months for the state of Oklahoma. So one benefit to filing for legal separation is that you can do that maybe earlier and then it can be converted into a divorce later if you want to.

Because the other thing that’s interesting about legal separations and divorces is that you can pretty much get the same types of orders out of each one. So if you’re talking about need an order regarding custody, visitation, child support, asset division, debt division, spousal support, request for attorney’s fees, suit monies, all of these different things, all these different relief that you can want, you can get them in both the legal separation or divorce. So sometimes it makes sense if you do not yet have residency established for divorce file for legal separation first, then go for the other.

So for the other reasons that you might want to, legal separation is that once you’re divorced under general laws existing regarding health insurance, you can’t cover your significant other on your health insurance if you’re divorced. So sometimes you might want to live separately but still are helping each other out, might make sense to have a legal separation so you can maintain the other person or the other person can maintain for you on health insurance.

Also, some people for religious reasons just don’t want the divorce. So the legal separation can get the orders in place that you need so that everybody’s on the same page regarding all those issues. But you don’t have the divorce on your record and don’t have that granted. So that can be another reason for it.

Sometimes also, we’ve got people that come into my office and they believe that their spouse is getting ready to file for divorce, but they don’t want divorce. They want to be prepared for the other spouse filing, but they don’t want to signal to the other spouse that they want a divorce. So in like, “Great.” What we can do is we can file for a legal separation so we can request the temporary orders be in place that are going to protect you. But that we’re signaling to the other side, you don’t want a divorce, you just want these orders at this time to protect yourself.

And then when that happens, the other side files an answer. And they frequently file a counterclaim. And that counterclaim could also be for legal separation or they could counterclaim for divorce. And if you file for legal separation first, you can amend later, request to amend, in order to request a divorce if it comes down to that.

But that goes over most of the important differences between legal separation and divorce and why you might want to file for one versus the other. But if you’re in circumstances where this is of interest to you, you probably want more than this general information. You’re going to want specific advice from an attorney based on your circumstances. So for that from my office, you can go to MakeLawEasy.com.

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